Your home is considered a sanctuary where you should feel safe. Your home is the only environment where you have control over who can get close to you or your family.
Protecting your home and family from criminal intrusion should be high on your list of priorities.
By far, the most common threat to our home is burglary. According to the Spanish police, a burglary occurs somewhere in Spain every 49 minutes 52 seconds. By definition, the crime of burglary is a non-confrontational property crime that occurs when we are not at home. The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or school.
The summer months of July and August have the most burglaries with February having the fewest crimes. Burglaries are committed most often by young males under 25 years of age looking for items that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash. Favourite items are cash, jewellery, guns, watches, laptop computers, VCRs, video players, CDs and other small electronic devices are high on the list. Statistics tell us that 70% of the burglars use some amount force to enter your home, but their preference is to gain easy access through an open door or window.
Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small hammers are most often used by burglars. Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process. The burglar’s selection process is simple. Choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes. What follows is a list of suggestions to minimize your risk by making your home unattractive to potential burglars.
Doors and Locks
The first step is to harden the target or make your home more difficult to enter. Remember, the burglar will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess.
Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage doors. Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest point of entry followed by the back door. The garage and back doors also provide the most cover. Burglars know to look inside your car for keys and other valuables so keep it locked, even when parked inside your garage. A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a ‘dead latch’ mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card.
The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden jamb is to simply kick it open. The weakest point is almost always the lock strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place followed by a glass panelled door.
Sliding-Glass Patio Doors
Sliding glass doors are secured by latches not locks.
They are vulnerable to being forced open from the outside because of these inherently defective latch mechanisms.
Older sliding glass doors can be lifted up and off their track and thereby defeat the latch mechanism. To prevent lifting, you need to keep the door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted. There are also numerous locking and blocking devices available that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally. Use a secondary blocking device on all sliding glass doors
- Keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted
- Keep sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted
- Use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins or upper track screws
Windows are left unlocked and open at a much higher rate than doors.
An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for your home to be selected by a burglar. Ground floor windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons.
Upper floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed from a stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies. Windows have latches, not locks and therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside.
- Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices
- Block accessible windows open no more than 6 inches for ventilation
- Make sure someone cannot reach through an open window and unlock the door
- Make sure someone cannot reach inside the window and remove the blocking device
- Use anti-lift devices to prevent window from being lifted out
- Use crime prevention or alarm decals on ground accessible windows
Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of life and activity inside a residence at night. A darken home night-after-night sends the message to burglars that you are away on a trip.
Exterior lighting is also very important. It becomes critical if you must park in a common area parking lot or underground garage and need to walk to your front door.
The purpose of good lighting is to allow you to see if a threat or suspicious person is lurking in your path. If you can see a potential threat in advance then you at least have the choice and chance to avoid it. Exterior lighting needs to bright enough for you to see 100-feet and it helps if you can identify colours. Good lighting is definitely a deterrent to criminals because they don’t want to be seen or identified.
- Use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy
- Exterior lighting should allow 100- feet of visibility
- Use good lighting along the pathway and at your door
- Use light timers or photo-cells to turn on/off lights automatically
- Use infra-red motion sensor lights on the rear of single family homes
Alarm systems definitely have a place in a home security plan and are effective, if used properly. The reason why alarms systems deter burglaries is because they increase the potential and fear of being caught and arrested by the police. Home and apartment burglars will usually bypass a property with visible alarm signs and will go to another property without such a sign.
- Alarm systems are effective deterrents with visible signage
- Alarm systems to be properly installed, programmed, and maintained
- Alarm systems need to have an audible horn or bell to be effective
- Make sure your alarm response call list is up to date
- Instruct your neighbour how to respond to an alarm bell
Since the prices of good home safes are falling, having a safe in your home is a wise investment. Home safes are designed to keep the smash and grab burglar, nosey kids, dishonest babysitter or housekeeper from gaining access to important documents and personal property. Home safes need to be anchored into the floor or permanent shelving.
- Use the safe everyday so it becomes routine
- Protect the safe code and change it occasionally
- Install it away from the master bedroom or closet
We recommend that you photograph your valuables in their locations around your home and make a list of the make, model, and serial numbers.
This is very important for proof when filing insurance claims. You should keep this list in a safety deposit box or with a relative for safe keeping.
Keep receipts of the larger items in case you need to prove the value of the items for insurance purposes. Beyond that, I recommend that you photocopy important documents and the contents of your wallet.
You will be thankful that you took these steps in case your home is ever destroyed by fire or flood, is ransacked, or if your wallet is lost or stolen.
- Identify your valuables by engraving your drivers’ license number
- Photograph and record the serial numbers of all valuables
- Photocopy the contents of your wallet and other documents
Store the copies in a safe deposit box or with a relative